Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Charnley House, Part 2

Rachel Freundt Leave a comment

Architectural Drawing of the James Charnley House [Historic Architecture and Landscape Image Collection]

In this three-part series, I will be examining the relationship between the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his mentor Louis Sullivan, specifically in the controversy surrounding one of the most important designs in early modern architecture: the James Charnley House, constructed between 1891-92, in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Although Adler & Sullivan were the architects of record at the time of construction, since the 1930s Frank Lloyd Wright has been routinely listed alongside them (or sometimes alone) since he wrote in An Autobiography in 1932 that he solely designed the home. No one challenged this assertion, especially Adler & Sullivan, as both were long dead by the time Wright’s memoir was published. Although the commission was widely published in architectural journals of the time, like the August 1891 issue of Inland Architect and the January 1892 issue of Architectural Record as one of Sullivan’s most important works, Sullivan’s name was mostly omitted from discussions of the Charnley House for the next half century. Even Hugh Sullivan’s 1935 monograph on Louis Sullivan, the first detailed assessment of the architect’s work, validated Wright’s claims first made in An Autobiography. No sketches, no plans, no furnished interior photos survive of the home. Because of this lack of concrete contemporary evidence and the fact that scholars never conducted a detailed investigation over the years, one can see how easy it was for Wright to claim this ground-breaking design as his own.

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Robie House: Masterpiece of Glass and Light

Andi Marie 23 comments
Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

It all started when Frederick C. Robie purchased a 60 by 180-ft. lot at 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave. from Harold Goodman. This was the beginning of what would change the face of architecture in Chicago and beyond.

Fred and Lora Robie commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to create a masterpiece. Mr. Robie and Mr. Wright admired each other and were both forward thinkers who weren’t afraid to push limits. Wright would later call the house he built for the Robie family as his best work.

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Beverly Hills, Chicago

Andi Marie 12 comments

FLW Beverly Chicago 2 March 22 2013 038

Twelve miles south of The Loop is Beverly. A very beautiful community of wealth, historical architecture, luscious trees, fabled Longwood Drive, and a castle.

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Subtle Fractal Geometry in Wright’s Roloson Row Houses

John Morris Leave a comment

Roloson row houses

The Roloson row houses on Calumet Avenue on the South Side are a set of four attached units with dramatic front gables. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1894, they represent a transition period in his career. These houses were one of Wright’s earliest commissions–only one year after leaving Louis Sullivan’s firm.

If you look past the gables and window patterns, you might think these houses are similar to others in the neighborhood. However, a closer inspection reveals a subtle understanding of fractal geometry and visually appealing proportion.

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